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HCAHPS 2021 Updates

March 4, 2021

During a recent HCAHPS vendor training, CMS announced that Care Compare (formerly Hospital Compare) will not update in July 2021 as previously announced, due to delays in the submission of Q3 2020 HCAHPS data. Care Compare currently displays January–December 2019 discharges (published in October 2020), and is scheduled to refresh in October 2021, at which point we will see data from July–December 2020 discharges. (In previous news items, CMS announced that they will not be using the data voluntarily submitted during January–June 2020 for public reporting, and it will not be used for VBP scoring either.)

CMS will be conducting a mode experiment this spring and summer to test potential changes to the HCAHPS survey and protocols. This study is expected to use discharges from April–September 2021, with analysis of the results occurring in 2022. This experiment will evaluate three new mixed methodology web modes: web-mail, web-telephone, and web-mail-telephone. The “web” component is testing survey login information delivered via email only; because the laws around texting are more complicated and vary from state to state, CMS is not considering this invitation mode at this time. Recruitment for the mode experiment has been completed, and the surveys will all be administered by The RAND Corporation.

As part of this mode experiment, CMS will also be collecting data with potential new survey items. Tested survey items will address:

  • Care Coordination (Within Hospital/Post-Discharge)
  • Discharge Experience
  • Communication with Patient’s Family or Caregiver
  • Emotional Support/Security
  • Sleep and Rest
  • Summoning Help

These items will be evaluated for reliability, validity, and how they fit in with the existing HCAHPS survey. As a reminder, any changes are several years away and will be published in the Federal Register for comment prior to becoming approved. During the training, the presenter stated, “No major changes in HCAHPS Survey content or protocols are expected before 2023.”

If you would like to learn more about CMS’s plans for HCAHPS in 2021 and beyond, please contact [email protected].